Akeem’s pulse was racing. That idiot Jide had used his name as password. He would never have guessed in a million years, and the fact that he never used special characters or numbers was equally baffling. Why lock such a program with such a simple key?
His answer came within minutes. Akeem found that Jide’s program was not only self insured, it was a complicated maze that didn’t let up once a visitor got in. Damn! He cursed under his breathe as he typed.
‘Anything the matter?’ Captain Ali asked coolly.
‘No, nothing. The fool just has me running around chasing coins.’ Akeem showed Captain Ali the program and explained what he was doing gathering the monies together.
Justin stretched and peered at the computer. He observed the work Akeem had done, studied the program and listened to Akeem talk. After about five minutes, Akeem raised his hand to hit the enter key. Just as Akeem’s hand started its descent, Justin caught him and pushed him away.
Captain Ali had a bemused smile on his face as he stepped up to the computer and depressed the enter key himself. ‘Okay,’ he announced, ‘you two can stop the tugging run now.
Justin turned round, slowly releasing Akeem, ‘no!’ He screamed as he slowly sank to his knees defeated.
Akeem dusted himself and went to the computer. Immediately, he understood Justin’s predicament. ‘I’m afraid…,’ he turned to face Captain Ali, ‘…that the money’s gone. Without a trace.’
Captain Ali dragged one of the chairs to himself and sank into it. ‘What did you just say?’
‘The money, it’s gone.’ Justin’s voice was merely a whisper.
Nureni moved slowly and cautiously. His eyes were swollen and he was certain he had broken a rib or two. Damn that Jide guy, he had thought he was going to die for real, then he remembered his knife and pretended to be unconscious. Jide had bought the act and Nureni was almost certain that Jide would be in hell now, waiting as his welcoming party. They had a lot to delibrate on, arguments to resolve. Nureni banished the thought. He knew he was dying, but he had a last mission to accomplish.
He took stock of the quiet street, nothing moved, since there was power outage in the area, the noise of power generating systems were all he could hear. He climbed over a wall deftly and landed inside the compound without making noise. He rubbed his eyes and wished that Jide had not pulled a Tyson on him. His vision was blurry because of Jide. He edged past the cars parked in the compound and moved to the rear of the house.
The door was locked as he knew, heavy burglar proof irons with a sizable lock would dissuade any normal thief that the occupant of the apartment knew a thing or two about security. Undettered, Nureni brought out a pack from his pocket, picked a long needlelike device and once again rubbed his hand on his eyes for clearer vision. Then he proceeded to pick the lock and let himself into the apartment. Less than three minutes later, he opened the door of the room. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
As he poked his head into the room, he didn’t see the figure hiding behind the door, pestle in hand. Nureni was almost in the room when the pestle connected with the back of his head sending him crashing forward. He fainted on impact.
Twenty minutes passed before he came awake. Strong powerful beams of a flashlight ran into his eyes and Nureni couldn’t avert his head or close his eyes. His eyelids had been taped as was his mouth. He struggled to get up but only confirmed what he had suspected. He had been bound. He began a sinister laugh.
‘So, you came here to off me correct?’ A voice behind the beam asked.
Nureni stopped laughing. He shook his head, then started breathing through his mouth.
A hand tore off the tape covering his mouth. ‘Speak.’
‘I came to warn you. You’re in grave danger. Jide’s out of the equation and that leaves you.’
The person behind the light started pacing for a while, then stopped. ‘What happened to Jide?’
‘I killed him.’ Nureni answered stiffly. The light beam would soon render him blind if he didn’t do anything. His eyes stung and the guy behind the light seemed to have a little more finesse than Jide.
‘Why did you kill Jide?’ The voice was practised, the anger controlled.
‘He tried to kill me first.’ Nureni tried to avert his head, tried to move away from the glare he had been staring into for the last few minutes. Slowly, he was becoming disorientated and he could feel the pins gently poking his brain cells. The pain would only get worse if he didn’t do something soon enough.
‘I find that hard to believe. Jide is… was a lot of things. Murderer? Not one of them.’ The calmness had returned as the voice seemed to have banished its demons.
‘Please Segun, cut me loose. Jide tried to kill me, blew up my car minutes after I told him that I had eliminated the target.’ Nureni pleaded.
‘Target?! What target? What did you do?’ Segun walked into the light and moved close to Nureni. ‘Spill!’
‘Akeem and another guy, Justin, I think his name was, I blew them both into smithereens, then Jide did the same to me. Only, in my case, I had managed to leave the car some ten to twenty seconds before the explosion.’
Segun was aghast. ‘Jide tried to kill Justin?! Sorry, killed Justin. Damn!’ Segun stomped his foot hard on the floor and began hyperventilating. He paced for almost a minute before he was able to control himself. With a heavy heart, he went to the light switch and flipped it on. Thank God for trustee generators; NEPA, PHCN or whatever they called themselves these days were a national embarassment that the government didn’t even bother with any longer. Forget the farce of privatisation and all the activities, Nigerians got darkness instead of electric power.
Segun turned to face Nureni having illuminated the room by switching on the bulb, he was confronted with a grotesque sight. Nureni’s eyes were still open, his mouth open with a strand of saliva drooping off slowly. Segun moved forward, alarmed. ‘No, no!’ He rushed to Nureni and felt the assassin’s pulse. Nothing. That was when he finally deciphered what had been wrong all along. Nureni’s eyes were all white.
Ugochi woke up with a start. She had slept fitfully for a couple of hours and hadn’t gotten any rest for her mind or body. She sat up rocking gently as she tried to remember the dream she had just had. She wondered where Justin was at that time empathising with him and wishing that they had been able to make their date the previous evening count. Damn Mr. Adams for his call.
Ugochi stood up, picking her phone from the bed, she scanned through the messages as she went into the bathroom to relieve herself. She reentered the room pondering her next course of action. She wished it was that simple. The thoughts that she had: what she wanted to do. Finally, after struggling for so long, she shrugged and dialled the number. It rang more than four times before the call was answered.
‘Hello?’ A sleepy voice said.
‘Shouldn’t you be awake trying to even the scales, find me? Or this is how you go about sleeping and blaming the criminals for actually committing crimes you could have stopped?’ Ugochi was irked. How dare he sleep when she couldn’t? How dare he?
‘Huh?’ It was all the voice could offer.
‘Inspector Bala, I must say, this is a very unprofessional act by you…’
‘My name’s Sam, Samuel Kanu, I’m a technician with the Police. Inspector Bala’s in another room, let me get him for you.’ The voice cut Ugochi short and she heard movement after his short speech. Then she heard an exchange, then inspector Bala spoke. ‘I was wondering when you’d call back.’
‘Young lady, let’s be clear on one thing, you need me more than I need you. So, get off your high horse and speak to me.’
There was silence for about a minute as Ugochi stood in her room wondering how easy it would be to terminate the call and be rid of the annoyance that called himself a Policeman. The silence deepened.
‘Hello, are you there?’ Inspector Bala asked, urgent.
‘Mschew,’ ugochi hissed again, then she started speaking. ‘Let’s get this straight, I do not need you as much as you need me, and irrespective of what you say, I’m doing you a favour with this call. Yeah, I don’t mean to gloat or anything, but you’ll thank me later. Now, do you think that you can do what I’m about asking of you?’
‘What is it?’ A clearly irritated Inspector Bala answered waiting for her to finish her tirade before he bust her bubble. Until then, he was determined to remain quiet.
‘You need to make an arrest, now. I can’t tell you why, or what it’s for, but you need to make an arrest. Actually, you’re making two. Yes, two.’ Ugochi corrected herself as she gave Inspector Bala two separate addresses.
Inspector Bala wrote down the addresses, confirmed them, then he asked, ‘why are we arresting the gentlemen?’
‘I can’t say really, but my gut tells me that they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. So, why don’t you get to work and let me know in the morning what you’ve uncovered.’ Ugochi dismissed Inspector Bala.
‘Listen up young lady, I do not…’ The line went dead. ‘Shit!’ Inspector Bala stomped hard on the floor weighting the phone in his hand before catching himself. Very few people consistently irked him the way the girl was, he thought, and to top it, he hadn’t even met her. His disdain for her was slowly changing into respect. Maybe that’s why the owner of the phone put up with her, maybe not. He would find out one way or another.
He checked both addresses and determined that he couldn’t reach either location on time. He checked his wristwatch, it was four a.m. Inspector Bala placed a call to the division headquarters at Abule Egba. After identifying himself, he requested that men be sent to pick up the first contact. That was when he got the shocker of his morning.
The constable on duty informed him that the owner of the house had been murdered and that his corpse had since been deposited at the morgue. The constable further intimated that the assailants had escaped on powerbikes. Inspector Bala thanked him for his help, promised to be in touch then like a man possessed started running out the station. Two sergeants followed him wondering what had come over him.
Inspector Bala got into a van, turned on the ignition, then he raced out of the station in the van barely allowing the others settle in the van.
‘What’s the hurry?’ Sergeant Aremu asked. He was sitting beside the Inspector in the front of the van.
Inspector Bala didn’t answer, he just drove. For fifteen minutes, there was silence in the van as it sped, bumped and skidded on the roads. Then Inspector Bala slowed down, turned off the ignition and brought out his service pistol as he ran into the darkness.
Sergeant Aremu rolled his eyes. ‘Na which kain winch catch this oga so?’ He lamented as he also got out of the van and followed in the wake of his superior. When they got to the gate, Inspector Bala didn’t bother with finesse, he slammed hard on the gate. ‘Open up, police!’ He screamed at the top of his voice. He waited a full minute, then scaled over the gate into the house, leaving sergeant Aremu once again stranded outside the gate.
The sergeant groaned. If not for the fact that the Inspector had proven time without number to be an asset, he would have just gone back to the van. Sergeant Aremu was contemplating scaling over the gate too when it creaked and opened. ‘Ah, oga, I been think say…’ He stopped talking as the Inspector tossed a hapless security man at him.
Sergeant Aremu wanted to ask the Inspector what to do with the security man when Jite, the other sergeant got to him. Sergeant Aremu dropped the security man and rushed into the compound as he gave Jite orders. ‘Cuff the baga!’ He turned to the boys quarter of the house in time to see Inspector Bala ram the wooden door and push his way in. The door obviously was weak.
Sergeant Aremu was about to walk into the room when he noticed a strange movement in the dark. Instinctively he raised his gun cocking it in a swift movement as he shouted, ‘come out of there!’
‘I’m coming, I’m coming.’ Segun raised his hands and slowly stood as he walked out of his hiding place. He knew it was over, nothing he said or did could restore his innocence. He walked to the Sergeant, his hand still raised as he came to a stop.
Just then, the Inspector came out of his room. ‘Dan boroba shege!’
© Derin Gbadebo 2014